- IntroductionDeclining Translation
Ramon Llull, translation history, Antichrist, exegesis, affatus, Miramar, missionary colleges
4 [with obj.] (in the grammar of Latin, Greek, and certain other languages) state the forms of (a noun, pronoun, or adjective) corresponding to cases, number, and gender.(New Oxford American Dictionary)
The articles published in this issue are not, properly speaking, essays in translation studies. They are all, however, essays on “translation plus”: translation, that is, plus an academic discipline or a translational practice that situates its meaning, as in translation + media; translation + biography; translation + literature; translation + linguistics; translation + history; translation + religion, and so forth. Indeed the most salient trait of this collection is that it records a successful experiment in creating a forum of discussion [End Page 1] outside traditional disciplinary boundaries and their specific “codes,” where the critical vocabularies of different intellectual and linguistic traditions have met and encroached upon each other—and in the end, we believe, have enriched each other. Literally, these essays record a conversation among scholars in different disciplines, a conversation that began at a symposium on translation and the global humanities in Louisville in October 2014, but they are not, properly speaking, conference proceedings. Each one of us, in fact, went away inspired by the many questions raised and left unanswered during the symposium, and for months there was an intense exchange, via e-mail, of essays, reading suggestions, and opinions. If anything, this collection of articles marks the attempt of each contributor to rethink his or her work in light of a wider community, both to learn from scholars in other fields as well as to speak to scholars in other fields. Each essay transcends the author’s original symposium contribution and some, in fact, address new but related topics. Throughout this process, it was organic to have new voices join in the discussion.
With an eye to the “currency” of languages in the world—in synchronic and diachronic terms—and an eye to the many and diverse tools that make translation possible, this issue provides new understandings of the role of translation in the global humanities and of the possibilities of study it can offer. Three main elements give unity to the issue overall: translators and scholars of specific translations are central to the conversation; the overtly theoretical paradigm that is usual in the field of translation studies is counterbalanced by essays that take a descriptive approach to how translation is (or was) used, rather than (only) theorized, in the various fields that constitute the humanities; and finally, special attention is given to texts, to actual acts of translation, and to translators. In addition, this issue shows the range of possibilities of a newly conceived translation culture through its form: personal reflections over a lifelong scholarly engagement with translation go side by side with a biographical approach to the study of translation blurring the boundaries between the author, the translator, and the editor; self-translation practices within the Zapotec indigenous poetry tradition are counterpointed by the study of self-translation in the Middle Ages; the importance of visual icons and symbols as translations among the Meso-American cultures after colonial contact is put in dialogue with an exploration of the roles of icons and [End Page 2] dictionaries in contemporary Chinese art and literature; translation as a postcolonial educational strategy in Singapore can be read against the attempt to define the tools of the translational humanities, to list but a few of the possibilities.
As editors, we came to this project from different disciplines and different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and we have striven to maintain this inner diversity in the pages in front of you. In what follows, in lieu of a unified introduction, we have chosen to write three individual entries to make explicit in what way this collection makes a contribution in our respective fields. The model we are using is that of the entry in a dictionary, the first instrument we have all used to practice translation in our own lives, and the essays collected here provide the examples (or usages) that we needed to...